Thursday, 19 April 2012

100k World Champs is around the corner

So it’s time to pack and get ready for the European & World 100km Championships in Italy on 22nd April. It should prove to be a great race with some very talented athletes attending. Giorgio Calcaterra, Michael Wardian, Marina Zhalybina and Ellie Greenwood will be battling it out, amongst many others.

From the Irish side of things, I have been given the honour of captaining the following team which will certainly start in a strong position:

John Byrne
Michael Collins
Daniel Doherty
Thomas Maguire
John O'Regan
Keith Whyte
Jim McCormick

Helen Lavin

The cumulative time of the top three finishers for each nation decides the outcome of the team competition for both the Worlds and European events.


It has been quite tough to prepare from a training perspective for the Worlds as at the same time I am having to condition myself for some coastal path and mountain events in June-August with perhaps another 100k on tarmac thrown in between. That said, I believe a mix of trail, road and mountain will do no harm!

From my own experience 100k events on tarmac can prove to be one of the most difficult ultra running disciplines to master. This is for many reasons but in the main it's due to the high intensity run over such a long period, on unforgiving ground (tarmac).

Unlike many trail or mountain ultras where there is plenty opportunity to compose yourself, vary your pace, hydrate and focus on nutrition (especially on the climbing parts and the like) 100k road usually requires a lot more focus with disciplined and calculated consumption of hydration and nutrition. Getting it wrong can be fatal to your time. In addition the tarmac is unforgiving and if your running gait is out of form you are going to know about it very quickly!

Many athletes on Sunday will be aiming to break the 7 hour mark. Allowing for fade (a negative split is truly amazing) you are looking at an average of 6:30 – 6:40 minute miles for 62 miles. That is no walking pace. This therefore places pressure on ensuring that hydration levels are kept up and nutrition is literally shoved down the throat! Ireland has an experienced and knowledgable support team which reduces the pressure a little especially later on in the game. Each athlete will pass 20 aid stations over the course of the 100k so there is a lot to think about.

Essentially, I will have various things available to me including:

a)     Elete Electrolyte add in concentrate and tablets
b)     Water
c)     Clif shot blox
d)     GU gels
e)     Jelly Babies

At each CP I will have a 250ml bottle of water that will have Elete – this is a vital piece of kit for me. Essentially it means I can take in the relevant electrolytes with the simple taste of water without having to consume a vast amount of ‘flavoured sports drink’ which certainly makes me feel sick and sticky over the course 7 hours. Throw in gels and it’s a total nightmare especially on a hot day. Elete also offer tablets which are simply taken with water and provide for measured electrolyte intake. I will take a couple of these through the race. Check out Elete here:

I will therefore cellotape the nutrition to the bottle (so I don’t have to fumble around for the nutrition) and mix it up so that during one 5-10k period I will be eating something solid (Clif) and the next section I will go for a gel. I might throw in a banana or something else if needed. For the final section, I will consume whatever I can, for example a few jelly babies/banana to get me to the finish line. Of course the key here is not to consume something too sugary too early to avoid the crashing.

Anyhow I thought I would share this with you, this is my plan but as with all ultras you never know what the day is going to throw at you which is what really makes this sport so exciting!!

You can get live updates of the race by visiting the IAU website here: